The dreaded school stationery run is upon us. Like parents of more than half a million children, I've been issued by our schools with lists of pens, pencils, books and other related stationery to buy.
This year we've saved $71.14 on the lists sent out by Stanley Bay School and Belmont Intermediate using one simple technique.
We emptied the children's bedrooms and my office of all stationery, put it on the dining table and picked out the items that matched those on the stationery lists. I didn't know until we looked that we had Sakura Gelly Roll pens and 6B pencils, and a lot of other useable items lurking around the house.
So successful was this exercise that I've made the kids name every last pen and pencil, compass, protractor and memory stick, to heighten the chances of them coming back at the end of term four for reuse in future years.
I can't help but feel guilty, however, for not buying every item on the list new. The emotional blackmail from schools is huge, firstly to buy the exact brands listed and, secondly, to shop at the recommended stores.
One friend of mine collects the mailers from stationery stores and supermarkets, writes lists, does the rounds of the shops and saves a small fortune on stationery for her five children.
"Stuff the preferred supplier," she says.
Anyone struggling with the idea of shopping at a school's named stationery supplier should note that Warehouse Stationery gives "reward points" on all items bought at its stores, any time of the year.
Even though I relented and bought the kids' remaining stationery at the named suppliers, I restocked my office this week at Warehouse Stationery's "back to school" prices and had the points attributed to the local school.
My best bargain was 20 refill pads reduced from $6.45 to $1.98 - saving me $89.40.